We talk a lot about the high cost of a legal education. Not only is it bankrupting students, but it severely cripples the profession by funneling students away from potential careers in lower paying work for the underprivileged or work in underserviced geographic areas — or at least funneling students into those careers for longer than the civic-minded student might want. So we applaud law schools that slash tuition.
Unfortunately, one of the illustrious T14 law schools in the ATL Rankings is going the other direction, proposing a tuition hike…
Good news, another law school has cut its tuition. For all of the… creative ways some schools are trying to cope with decreasing law school applications, tuition cuts still seem like the only thing that is likely to help.
But even as some schools start to cut, you wonder if tuition can ever be rolled back to the point where law school is cost-effective for the current generation of prospective law students. Law schools have been raising tuition, every year, for decades. Is cutting tuition now just like putting on perfume instead of taking a shower?
Law schools across the country are falling from grace now that the new normal has taken hold. Students are increasingly less and less interested in going to law school. From joblessness to insurmountable debt, there are just too many risks now associated with the J.D. degree to make it worth their while.
Many law schools are doing everything they can to entice new students to attend, and some of their disaster-avoidance plans — like initiating freezes and cuts to their egregiously high tuition rates — have been quite popular. Other law schools are trying to control costs by offering faculty and staff buyouts or conducting layoffs. Some law schools, however, are trying to pass the buck to their students.
Which top 100 law school is planning back-to-back tuition hikes and asking for state assistance to account for its enrollment woes?
There’s another story today about the soft market for law school applications. According to the National Law Journal, law school applications are down 8 percent this year, and a shocking 37 percent since 2010.
But one law school is experiencing a boom in applications. It’s a new law school, one that probably shouldn’t exist in the first place. But it is doing one thing right that other law schools still resist: it’s dirt cheap….
* Six U.K. firm leaders got together to talk about how to run their practices during challenging economic times. It turns out they’d prefer not to run their firms into the ground. [The Lawyer]
* Look out everyone, because Taylor Wessing, an international law firm that’s known for its IP, media, and telecommunications work, is storming both coasts of the United States in its very own dual office launch Biglaw blitzkrieg. [Am Law Daily]
* “It is a shameful canard that student loans and indebtedness are the cause of high tuition. They are not; they are the symptom,” says a law dean standing up for his students. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* If you want to go to law school and you’ve got an undergrad degree in a technical area like engineering, then congrats. You might stand to get a job after graduation. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
We know how much our readers love rankings, so this is probably a good time to let you know that the National Jurist has released its eighth annual list of the law schools thought to offer the “Best Value” to law students — usually a list dominated by public schools with a smattering of private schools. The magazine also released its second annual list of the “best value” private law schools at the same time.
The Best Value ranking system typically takes into account a law school’s tuition (weighted 25 percent), students’ cost of living expenses (10 percent), students’ average indebtedness upon graduation (15 percent), the percentage of graduates who got a job after graduation (35 percent), and bar passage rates (15 percent).
What’s so exciting about this year’s list? For starters, the list of the overall “Best Value” list includes the most private law schools to date, in part due to the fact that average indebtedness is down since law schools started tossing out scholarships like Mardi Gras beads just to convince students to enroll.
Let’s take a look at the 2014 “Best Value” rankings…
Please note the UPDATE on the second page of this post.
* Federal judges still have financial allegiances to their former firms that are reported on their mandatory annual disclosures. At least one appellate judge — Jay Bybee of the Ninth Circuit — made a killing after confirmation. [National Law Journal]
* After “a challenging 2013,” Bingham McCutchen is leaking lawyers like a sieve. Fourteen attorneys, including nine partners, recently decided to leave the firm, and they’re all headed to different Biglaw locales. [WSJ Law Blog via Reuters]
* Just one day after Donald Sterling was declared “mentally incapacitated,” he filed a lawsuit against the NBA, seeking more than $1 billion in damages. Skadden lawyers are stripping off their warm-up suits to take it to the court. [USA Today]
* This Am Law 200 firm thinks it figured out a way to help women combine their careers and home lives — by hiring a role model/mentor with an almost six-figure salary. Good idea or bad? [Dallas Morning News]
* We’ve got some breaking news for our readers from the “no sh*t” department: Law schools are competing to cut costs based on a shrinking applicant pool, but tuition is still quite unaffordable. [Houston Chronicle]
* Lewis Katz, co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and alumnus of Dickinson Law, RIP. [Onward State]
Another school has surveyed the landscape of legal education over the next several years and recognized that, to paraphrase Jimmy McMillan, the tuition was too damn high. Reduce the sticker shock and get a leg up on peer institutions. And most importantly game the ATL Rankings in the process.
This is not the first school to take steps to cut back on tuition, but a school making this kind of significant cut sends a signal to its peers that the game has changed and the new blueprint is, well I don’t want to say “value” because you’re still sending students into an uncertain job market, but at least “bargain hunting.”
So who joins the ranks of tuition-slashing institutions?
* Footnote fight! Justice Sonia Sotomayor has been clashing with quite a few of her fellow Supreme Court jurists lately, aside from Chief Justice John Roberts. She recently inspired the wrath of Justice RBG herself. [New York Times]
* After months of being poked and prodded for cash, 60 former Howrey equity partners have reached clawback deals with bankruptcy trustee Allan Diamond, and it looks like a few of them agreed to pay pretty hefty sums. [Am Law Daily]
* Here’s a headline we could’ve told you was coming: “The US lawyer bubble has conclusively popped.” It’s not a terribly good decision to attend now, but if you do, people who can’t pay you need your help. [Quartz]
* Cutting law school tuition may be a good idea to attract more students, but in the long run, it could hurt the schools, says Moody’s. Aww, let us shed some tears for those poor law schools. [WSJ Law Blog]
* The University of Arizona will be the first school in the U.S. to offer a bachelor’s degree in law. The degree is being marketed to people who eventually want to have lots of law-related debt. [National Law Journal]
Back from the big NALP conference, back from Seattle, happy to be back in New York City. The five boroughs came up a lot at the conference thanks to the big move by Brooklyn Law School to cut tuition by 15% next year.
If I may summarize the reactions from other schools about Brooklyn’s cut (I’m paraphrasing):
F**k those motherf**kers. It’s still super-expensive. Go STATE!
Actually my school did something very similar. [Elie explains why their school is not similar.] Well, that’s just your opinion, man.
Can somebody wake me up when Yale does it?
I expected that other schools would be a little annoyed with Brooklyn. Schools are already facing a financial crunch given the sharp drop in new law students; not many want to take on the additional financial burden of across the board rate reductions. I recently appeared on CNBC with Brooklyn Law Dean Nick Allard, and he explained that Brooklyn Law sold off some of its capital assets to afford this. I noted that not every school is in the position to do that.
But I didn’t expect some prospective Brooklyn Law students to also bitch about the reduction. I guess when you expect dumber people to subsidize your education, having that taken away from you is jarring…
As part of a nationwide tour, Above the Law is coming to the great city of Chicago.
Join preeminent law firm management consultant Bruce MacEwen, Katten Muchin Chicago managing partner Gil Sofer, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. assistant general counsel Jason Shaffer for a panel discussion (sponsored by Pangea3) on the evolutionary and market forces bearing down on the law firm business model. Come on by Thursday, November 20, at 6 p.m., for thought-provoking discussion, food, drink, and networking.
Space is limited and there will be no on-site registration, so please RSVP
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.